Skip to main content

Sochi Olympics are ... fabulous!

By Sally Kohn
updated 7:17 AM EST, Fri February 14, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sally Kohn: The Olympic Games at Sochi have been pretty flamboyant so far
  • Kohn: Despite Russia's anti-gay law, there were many gay-ish moments

Editor's note: Sally Kohn is a progressive activist, columnist and television commentator. Follow her on Twitter @sallykohn.

(CNN) -- Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people around the world -- and many of their allies -- are protesting the Winter Olympics in Sochi because of Russia's anti-gay law, which basically criminalizes pro-gay speech or propaganda.

Sally Kohn
Sally Kohn

As a lesbian, and yes, one who has been known from time to time to propagandize (i.e., write and talk) about how gay people are equal in every sense imaginable to straight folks -- and should be treated as such -- I feel the Russian law is unthinkably inhumane and offensive. And as far as I'm concerned, it's a reason to boycott the Sochi games and ostracize Russia on the world stage in general.

And so you can imagine my surprise in discovering that the Sochi Games have featured moments filled with gay symbolism. And we're only a few days in.

5. The pretend lesbians who sang and held hands at Opening Ceremony

Yulia Volkova and Lena Katina of t.A.T.u. perform during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Yulia Volkova and Lena Katina of t.A.T.u. perform during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

The Russian band t.A.T.u. made waves several years ago when they skyrocketed to fame as a young-Russian-lesbians-in-love pop duo followed by the revelation that the stars of the band were actually heterosexual and merely staged the gay thing to get attention. Nonetheless, t.A.T.u.'s Yulia Volkova and Lena Katina achieved pseudo-gay icon status in Russia and beyond. So it was a big deal when they performed at the Sochi opening ceremony and held hands, hopefully a subtle form of protest causing Russian President Vladimir Putin to clutch his pearls. Hopefully.

4. IOC chairman's speech about tolerance and diversity

Thomas Bach, the chairman of the International Olympic Committee, gave a speech at the opening ceremonies, as such chairpeople usually do. If you watched the speech on NBC, you might have missed the most important part, which NBC claims it edited out because of time, not politics. In the cut portion, Bach says:

"This is the Olympic message the athletes spread to the host country and to the whole world. Yes, it is possible to strive even for the greatest victory with respect for the dignity of your competitors. Yes, yes, it is possible -- even as competitors -- to live together under one roof in harmony, with tolerance and without any form of discrimination for whatever reason. Yes, it is possible -- even as competitors -- to listen, to understand and to give an example for a peaceful society."

Intentional or not, it was a mistake for NBC to edit out that very important part. This political point needed making.

3. The Canadian bobsled team posted what?

Four men. With beards. And rippling muscles. Wearing nothing but their underwear. Crammed into a phallic-shaped bobsled to pose for a photo. I mean. For the record (and for my lawyer), I'm not saying the Canadian Bobsled team is gay. I am saying this picture is.

2. Blake Skjellerup's one blade crusade

New Zealand's speed skater Skjellerup is one of a handful of openly gay athletes competing in Sochi. Skjellerup was able to afford to go to the Olympics thanks to fundraising support from the gay community worldwide and now that he's there, he's working extra hard to represent. He's got his own pin. And this week, Skjellerup won the Internet with this tweet:

Here's hoping Blake gets the chance.

I'm leaving out the uniforms and gloves that, apparently coincidentally, feature the rainbow colors used to signify gay pride around the world, the campiness of figure skating uniforms -- the idea of de-gayed figure skating is so laughable that 'Saturday Night Live" parodied the idea in its pre-Sochi cold open imagining "Heterosexual Figure Skating Championships" -- and the all-male choir in uniforms that could belong to the Village People singing about getting lucky. But this one is priceless.

Because there's only so much fabulousness you can fit in one essay, and I simply had to make room for this.

1. Thank you, Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion

This didn't happen at Sochi but is sure inspired by it and is by far the most awesome thing ever so I'm including it here. The Canadians put out this video as a giant homoerotic rebuttal to Putin and discrimination in Russia. It is a wonder to behold. Watch the clip.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Sally Kohn.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:28 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Timothy Stanley says Lewinsky is shamelessly playing the victim in her affair with Bill Clinton, humiliating Hillary Clinton again and aiding her critics
updated 9:02 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Imagine being rescued from modern slavery, only to be charged with a crime, writes John Sutter
updated 12:00 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Tidal flooding used to be a relatively rare occurrence along the East Coast. Not anymore, write Melanie Fitzpatrick and Erika Spanger-Siegfried.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Carol Costello says activists, writers, politicians have begun discussing their abortions. But will that new approach make a difference on an old battleground?
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
updated 2:51 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Crystal Wright says racist remarks like those made by black Republican actress Stacey Dash do nothing to get blacks to join the GOP
updated 2:27 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Mel Robbins says by telling her story, Monica Lewinsky offers a lesson in confronting humiliating mistakes while keeping her head held high
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
updated 11:36 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
updated 10:21 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
updated 4:33 PM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
updated 12:42 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
updated 4:27 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
updated 12:07 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
updated 6:45 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
updated 1:00 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
updated 9:35 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
updated 4:04 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
updated 9:07 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
updated 6:50 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Sat October 11, 2014
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT